Who Are the Voices Behind Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’?
The legendary tale of Robin Hood is one that needs no introduction. The story of the hooded hero, who stole from the rich, and gave to the poor, has been retold for ages. It has also seen a lot of different adaptations in its time in both movies and TV series. And even now, with the feature films underway, you might think Hollywood to be obsessed with it. But, out of all those, none took it home quite like Disney’s animated 1973 classic ‘Robin Hood’.
Disney’s version portrayed the legendary characters as talking animal characters, with Robin Hood himself being a cunning fox. Little John was depicted as a friendly bear, Prince John as an effeminate lion, Lady Marian, a fox, and Lady Kluck, a hen, among others. But what really brought it all together were the actors voicing the parts. Everything from their intonation to their adept improvisational skill was exemplary.
The inflection they gave the lines brought about the believability you want in an animated film, even bringing the character to life. If you are wondering who these wonderful voice actors are, read on to find out. In this article, we shall take a look at some of the most outstanding actors voicing the role and finally put a name to the voice.
Robin Hood – Brian Bedford
Many would agree that the character of Robin Hood as a fox was the most obvious way to go. And sure enough, the inherent cunning nature of a fox was brought out from the start of the film, only that this fox would use his deceitful ways to help the community.
The role was voiced perfectly by the legendary Brian Bedford, who, besides the cunning, brought his own charm to the role. The kind of charm that would see many oddly attracted to the anthropomorphic character. What was most impressive was how he’d switch up his voice to suit each disguise he took on to trick Prince John, from the female fortune teller to when he dressed up as a stork.
The actor was born in Morley, West Yorkshire. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, after which he took on stage acting. Other than Robin Hood, the Tony winner and seven-time nominee is also known for playing Clyde Tolson in Nixon and his appearance in Grand Prix in 1966, among other movies. He was even inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1997.
Little John – Phil Harris
The second most memorable character in the film, Little John, was played by Phil Harris. Harris also brought his little twist to the character, even introducing a bit of southern slang from the 1960s. If little John seems familiar, it is probably because he is the striking image of Baloo from The Jungle Book. It becomes even more apparent because Harris voices the two characters. Other than The Jungle Book, Harris also voiced Thomas O’Malley in Disney’s The Aristocats.
The actor first started out as a musician, as a drummer in San Francisco, only to later record swing music in the 1930s. This was the beginning of a string of novelty songs he would later record. In the late stages of his career, Harris was cast to reprise the role of voicing Baloo for the 1990 animated TV series TaleSpin. However, the 85-year-old would prove unable to voice the character after a session.
Lady Kluck – Carole Shelley
While Marian is the more prominent character in the film, Lady Kluck, her lady-in-waiting, is really the one who stands out. Voiced by Carole Shelley, Kluck (a mother hen) is much more feisty and energetic. Shelley brings out a distinct Scottish accent to support the brassy character. The boisterous personality she brings to the character adds life to the movie. She is the one who advises Marian on her love for Robin.
The United States-based British actor is famous for many other stage roles, including her debut role as Gwendolyn Pigeon in The Odd Couple, and Madame Morrible in the Broadway musical Wicked. She also won a Tony for best actor as Mrs. Kendal in the play The Elephant Man. She also featured in a couple of musicals in the late 1990S. Shelley would once again come back to Disney more than 25 years later as the voice of one of the Fates in Hercules.
Lady Marian – Monica Evans
Lady Marian, depicted as a female fox, is the lead female character in the movie. Despite being of noble descent in the movie, she is very much in love with the outlaw Robin Hood, who she holds with high regard. The voice of this lovable character is portrayed by Monica Evans. Like Harris, Evans also voiced another Disney character in The Aristocats, playing Abigail Gabble.
Other than that, Evans is famously known for playing Cecily Pigeon in The Odd Couple, where she played alongside Carole Shelley. Evans studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the 1950s. She stood in for Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros before completely taking over the role later. She also starred in a soap opera on the BBC called Compact and The Severed Head in the West End.
‘Robin Hood’ will be back in live-action
There you have it. Above are the voices of the most notable personalities in the film. Quite the roster, right? However, there are a few other honorable mentions that the movie wouldn’t be complete without. They include Prince John, played by Peter Ustinov, Terry Thomas as Sir Hiss, and the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Pat Buttram.
Buttram’s voice would also be heard in The Aristocats as Napoleon the Dog, Luke the Mouse in The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and A Goofy Movie.
As it stands, things aren’t quite over for Robin Hood. With plans underway by Disney to do a live-action remake of the show, you can expect to see more of the heroic outlaw and his band of merry men in the near future.